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Art & Design

Alexander Calder, “Splotchy” Wallpaper, 1949, Abby Rockefeller Mauze Fund

Alexander Calder Laverne Originals

“Splotchy” Wallpaper

Alexander Calder, designer
American, 1898-1976
Laverne Originals, manufacturer
American, 1938-
”Splotchy” Wallpaper
silkscreen on paper
141.6 cm (55 3/4 inches) (width)
Abby Rockefeller Mauze Fund 82.098

Imagine this wallpaper installed in a room to cover not only the walls but the ceiling as well. Alexander Calder’s gestural dots, sprays, and dribbles definitely intrude on the viewer. The wallpaper challenges the boundary between art and everyday life and questions the divide between the “high culture” of painting and the “low culture” of screenprinted, mass-produced wall-paper. This whimsical work bears a superficial relationship to Abstract Expressionist Jackson Pollock’s paintings (p. 254), but with its playful title, Splotchy comes across instead as Calder’s wry inversion of the high-minded seriousness of Pollock’s late 1940s “drip” work. Pop artist Andy Warhol (p. 267) turned to screenprinting in the 1960s for a similar effect.

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